Datafication, i.e. the transformation of every aspect of reality into data, is a transversal phenomenon that involves us all. We live in a world where data is omnipresent. Each of our online interactions generates a huge amount of data that is collected, analyzed and monetised.
Second The report of Statista, around 2021 billion people were active internet users in 4,9. It's really hard to imagine the extent of this phenomenon and its implications in everyday life. However, the data does not only concern the online world. Even when we shop at the supermarket, pay by card or use our badge to enter the office, we are generating information that can be recorded and analysed. The data is everywhere.
Digital healthcare is at the forefront
The area in which Datafication is most evident is perhaps that of healthcare. The adoption of wearable devices, telehealth and artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way doctors and healthcare facilities operate, as also highlighted by Forbes in this article.
Wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers produce a mass of data on biometric parameters that can also be monitored remotely. Artificial intelligence-based virtual assistants are used both to provide information to patients and to support clinical decisions. And they will be even more.
Access to patient data allows for better integration between various healthcare services, leading to greater overall efficiency of the system, as underlined in this McKinsey article. Patients can independently manage their own health thanks to access to information and telemedicine.
Data makes a predictive and personalized approach to care possible. Through machine learning algorithms it is possible to predict the onset of pathologies or adverse reactions to drugs. Precision medicine exploits the genetic information of each patient for tailor-made therapies.
Not just medicine: datafication and predictive marketing
Marketing is also benefiting greatly from datafication. Through techniques predictive analysis, companies can predict when a customer is ready to make a purchase, customizing promotional campaigns accordingly.
Thanks to data on user behavior and preferences, companies can offer content and products tailored to the individual customer, increasing sales and loyalty. For example, by analyzing purchase history and the pages visited, an algorithm can determine when a user needs a certain product, such as a new pair of running shoes, and offer it to him through targeted ads.
The data allows you to segment your audience into categories to target specific messages. Through testing, campaigns can be optimized by determining which content, formats and channels work best for a given segment.
Thanks to data analysis, marketing is more strategic and less based on intuition. You can measure the return of each campaign and optimize your investments. Companies can have a 360° view of the customer and offer them a personalized experience both online and offline.
Datafication and Smart cities
Datafication also plays a key role in the development of smart cities. Sensors and IoT devices such as cameras, smart meters and GPS trackers collect an enormous amount of data on traffic, air quality, energy consumption, noise and many other parameters in real time.
The analysis of this data in real time makes it possible to optimize the management of urban infrastructures and improve the quality of life of citizens. For example, traffic data now makes it possible to synchronize traffic lights and reduce traffic jams, especially during peak hours. Tomorrow they will make them part of a single "circulatory system". Air pollution information can be used to plan measures such as traffic bans or electric mobility incentives.
The data also makes it possible to monitor the health of the water and electricity networks, quickly identifying leaks or malfunctions and coordinating maintenance interventions efficiently thanks to predictive algorithms.
Data-enabled services in smart cities include real-time public transport, digital payments for parking and services, interactive maps, crime prevention systems based on predictive analytics and so on. The cities of the future will be interconnected, sustainable and citizen-friendly thanks to the intelligence of data.
Datafication: job opportunities and risks to face
As data grows exponentially, so does the need for professionals who can manage and analyze it. Various figures, such as data analysts, data engineers, data scientists and cybersecurity experts, will be increasingly in demand. Companies are looking for profiles with technical skills but also creativity and the ability to identify useful trends for the business.
Not to mention the fact that, despite the benefits, managing such a large amount of data poses significant challenges in terms of privacy and security, which must be faced ethically and responsibly by organizations. Any data breaches risk jeopardizing user trust. We need a clear regulatory framework to protect citizens' digital rights.
To the future
The age of data is upon us. It is up to us to understand this silent revolution and exploit its potential to improve our society, without losing sight of the risks it entails. One thing is certain: the future will be dominated by data.
Will we be able to consciously govern this enormous amount of information for the benefit of all?